Psych: Research Units and Teams
Our research spans across a range of disciplines and topic areas. Investigative approaches range from laboratory-based research to applied, clinical- or community-based investigations, enabling a strong tradition of bench-to-bedside research outcomes.
Psychiatrists and psychologists in the Aged Mental Health Unit combine their expertise in the diagnosis, assessment and treatment of the sorts of mental disorders experienced by older people. Their research interests include: diagnosis and treatments for depression and/or dementia; helping carers with difficult behaviours in older people with dementia; assisting general practitioners provide better mental health services to their older patients; and quality of life for nursing home residents.
The Anthrozoology Research Group investigates the relationships between humans and companion animals. This includes the relationship between human behaviour and animal behaviour, public perceptions of how animals should be treated, how humans can affect the welfare and wellbeing of their animals, the psychology of relationships between humans and their animals, and development of scales and measurements of aspects of human-animal relationships, such as personality, or strength of bond.
The Behavioural and Psychopharmacology Group investigates the behavioural effects produced by compounds that act on the brain to change mood, behaviour and cognition. This includes drugs used for the treatment of medical and mood disorders (e.g. antidepressants), as well as drugs used for their rewarding effects (drugs of misuse and abuse). The group uses healthy people, clinical populations and animal models to determine the neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underlie these psychoactive drug effects, and examines their effects on health and performance.
The brain is completely dependant on it’s blood supply for energy and nutrition. The Blood-Brain Interactions group uses a range of approaches, from cognitive testing of people in clinical and community settings, to measuring biochemical reactions in cultured brain cells using a synchrotron, to examine how abnormal interactions between the blood and brain can result in cognitive dysfunction and brain damage. They are also seeking to identify chemicals in the blood that can protect brain cells from oxidative stress, and the role of astrocytes in preventing age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease. The ultimate aim of this research is to assist people to choose diets and lifestyles that improve their brain health and reduce their risk of brain disease.
Under the leadership of Professor Julie Stout, the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (or the Stout Lab as it is known) is known for their development and implementation of strategies and tools for sensitive measurement of cognitive function to aid in the understanding and treatment of Huntington Disease. We are also known for work on cognitive models of decision making and their applications to clinical populations, especially drug use problems. The main approaches we use include computerized cognitive, clinical neuropsychological, and neuropsychiatric assessment, along with mathematical modelling and neuroimaging (MRI, EEG). Our aim is to link state-of-the-art research methods to clinical problems in ways that will help to understand heterogeneity among people with various disorders, and also in ways that have clear potential for affecting treatments.
The Clinical Trials Research Group conducts clinical trials such as the evaluation of the effectiveness and efficacy of new formulations of atypical antipsychotics. Their focus is to better understand the psychopharmacology and biological basis of various different psychiatric conditions, particularly of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
This Laboratory, led by a world-leading expert in genetic disorders, focuses on mapping out the trajectory of both neurodevelopmental disorders and typical development across the lifespan: from infancy to old age. Currently the lab has a particular interest on the neurodevelopmental disorders Fragile X, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Williams-Beuren syndrome and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). One of the primary goals of this research is to demonstrate how cognitive delays in each developmental disorder must be addressed with care and attention to their unique qualities
Developmental Psychopathology group examines emotional development in childhood and adolescence, and how this affects emotional regulation and coping mechanisms as an adult. Of particular interest is the development of those who experience depression during adolescence, and the wellbeing of adults with atypical emotional development earlier in life.
The Emotion and Well-Being Unit (EWBU) aims to understand more fully the psychological and neurobiological processes which promote and sustain well-being. Our team is internationally recognized for its work on identifying correlates and methods for enhancing well-being in a range of settings including education, workplaces and communities and for specific populations such as adolescents and the chronically ill. We are also known for our research on biological mechanisms underlying strong emotional experiences, particularly with music.
Undertaking innovative behavioural (cognitive and motor) and brain imaging research in a range of neurodegenerative disorders, the Experimental Neuropsychology Research Unit encapsulates aspects of both neurology and psychiatry in characterizing cognitive and motor function in both normality and disease, as well as to determine how differences in brain function relate to symptomatology across disorders. The Unit uses a range of experimental behavioural, and neuroimaging, techniques to examine cognitive and motor function in neurodegenerative disorders and in normal healthy populations.
In collaboration with the Department of General Practice, the General Practice Psychiatry Unit works to foster education and research in general practice (GP) psychiatry. Current projects include evaluating the effectiveness of mental health related counselling in primary health care, designing a system of classifying depression shared by psychiatrists and GPs, and trialling educational intervention for GPs in the management of depression and anxiety.
The Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine Unit places a specific emphasis on the cognitive, behavioural and psychological risk factors for, and consequences of, illness and injury.
Human Factors and Ergonomics group is devoted to understand the relationships between humans and technology. This interdisciplinary applied research group seeks to understand the human factors that apply to the design of systems and devices of all kinds, such as computers and mobile phones. The group aims to apply this knowledge to inform the design of effective, safe and easy to use systems involving interactions between people, machines, and environments.
The Psycholinguistics and Cognition Research Group examines the nature of the mental processes that support our understanding and use of language, both spoken and written. The group is using this knowledge to develop computer-based detection, assessment and monitoring of cognition decline, which can be used for example to evaluate cognitive impairment in patients undergoing cardiac surgery, or the effects of cognitive decline on driving performance in the elderly.
Psychological and Behavioural Medicine group is based in Monash Medical Centre, and through research and teaching aims to foster informed psychological care of the physically ill and a more integrated system of behavioural and physical health care. The group examines how we measure psychiatric co-morbidity in the medically ill, and psychotherapy and other possible interventions for the medically ill.
Psycho-oncology is concerned with the psychological, social, behavioural and ethical aspects of cancer. This includes the psychological response of patients, their families and caretakers at all stages of the disease process. These stages incorporate the continuum from symptom detection and diagnosis, to adjustment and recovery, through to treatment, palliative care and bereavement. Also of interest to these researchers are the social factors that may influence the disease process. These include the role of the family, caretakers and social networks in all stages of the continuum.
The Sleep and Chronobiology Research Group is primarily concerned with circadian rhythms, controlled by the internal biological clock that regulates sleep and waking. The group is also interested in environmental factors that affect circadian rhythms (e.g. light), and the effects of restricted sleep on neurobehavioural functioning in both healthy people and people with psychiatric conditions.
Social Sciences and Health Research addresses emerging questions in the field of applied medical anthropology and public health. This includes areas such as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), parenting experiences and issues, and the importance of community in mental health and wellbeing.
Monash South Africa has a strong research team working on a number of areas within psychology and psychiatry.
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